Friday, 16 December 2016

Natural Disasters in Europe: A summary

From Asia 's hotpot to the journey through the Americas, this week's focus is on Europe! Kreibich et al 2014  argue that because of the changing climate, Europe will be faced with more impacts from natural disasters in the coming years.
“Climate change is one of the largest threats to human and ecosystem health (in Europe), reducing the supply of food and nutrition, causing premature deaths from extreme weather events and affecting vital ecosystems” UNEP, 2016.

  

Overview


Disaster type
Occurrence
Total deaths
Homeless
Total affected
Total damage
Drought
7
0
0
216194
6051573
Extreme temperature 
141
67819
0
621557
1932601
Flood
232
1069
53138
4066755
50978320
Storm
137
380
2963
986477
41061400
Wildfire
25
241
5692
1020865
8173274
Data Source: EM-DAT Database (Accessed 21 December 2016)

The main disasters in Europe are drought, extreme temperatures (heat waves), flood, storms and wildfire. Based on the data from the EM DAT database, the frequency of these hazards within the past decade shows variations in length and magnitude- floods are a common phenomena followed by extreme temperatures and storms respectively. As shown in the table, most deaths have resulted from heatwaves and floods. However, significant damages result from floods and storms with the largest number of people being affected from the former. The same scenario is observed in Asia and the Americas which are more impacted by floods and storms.

Frequency of disasters in Europe from 2005-2015
Data Source: EM-DAT Database (Accessed 21 December 2016)


Floods and heat waves


Rojas et al. 2012 assessed the impacts of river floods in Europe, based on both the adaptation and non-adaptation trajectories, and found a projected increase in the number of affected population. The study also projected that, if adaptation measures are not put in place, the number of damages resulting from river floods will reach €98 billion per year by 2080. Conversely, the damages will be lower in the phase of adaptation to as much as €53 billion per year by the same period. However, Rojas and colleagues note that there are wider variations at country level with countries like the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Italy, Romania and the United Kingdom set to incur high damages. Variations are also evident at country level with some parts of a given country being more at risk to river floods than the rest of the country. A study by Alfieri et al. 2015 affirms that the frequency and magnitude of the floods in Europe will increase with “flood peaks with return periods above 100 years are projected to double in frequency within 3 decades”. Other studies have also assessed the impact of sea level rise in Europe and the resulting impact due to coastal flooding.


The 2015 summer in Europe was marred with extreme temperatures, with the highest temperature in Berlin reaching 37.9°C, London at 36.7°C, and Paris at 39.7°C. The surface area temperature anomaly over central Europe for the period was 2.40°C above the 1964–1993 mean. This level of warming closely matched with the 2003 summer heat wave that lead to massive loss of lives. In assessing the chances of extreme temperatures since the 2003 European heat wave, Christidis et al. 2015 found that the occurrence of heat wave events is now twice a decade as compared to the early 2000s where heat waves occurred once a decade.

Focus on the top 5...



Occurrence of natural disasters in European countries between 2005-2015
Data Source: EM-DAT Database (Accessed 21 December 2016)








Number of people affected by the natural disasters between 2005-2015
Data Source: EM-DAT Database (Accessed 21 December 2016)
Death resulting from natural disasters, 2005-2015
Data Source: EM-DAT Database (Accessed 21 December 2016)

Cost of damages resulting from natural disasters, 2005-2015
Data Source: EM-DAT Database (Accessed 21 December 2016)